Baring it All! - Going Bald for Cancer Research UK

What would you give to see me lose all my long hair?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

50 Days - Why on Earth did you use that name?

Thanks to Iain for adding to my sponsors last night - went to look this morning (sad bugger I am! :-)) and was well pleased - which brings the total up to £160.38 [£135 + £25.38 tax reclaimed] Great - more than 15%! [in fact, I'm sad enough to have worked out, that's 16.038% :-D ]
Keep the donations coming, guys!

Why 'Baring it all'?

  • Obvious reason of getting rid of hair and baring scalp
  • Catchy
  • Play on word 'bearing', as in it is something I and, in a different way, cancer survivors are going through, or 'bearing'
  • Also playing with the word 'baring' as in baring my feelings openly in this blog
If some people might come to this site looking for titivation, then I apologize for possible misleading, but I don't apologize for the title- I think it's apt! :-)

PS. Since this morning, there have been two more great sponsors - a huge thankyou to Caroline Roberts [seems like everyone wants to give me hats! But I like them, so what the heck! :-) ] and also to (you know who you are!) 'anonymous'. Both very gratefully received!

The new total is now (with tax reclaimed) a grand £179.62 - fantastic!

(unfortunately, when I tried to download the pictures of the new total, it just comes up blank - but you could always go and look yourself! :-) Donate safely on 'Just Giving'! )

51 Days - Does gene diagnosis help?

As you can see, I hit the local newspaper on Friday when I was away, and I didn't even realise it! :-) Yesterday, on my return from Norfolk, I popped into the local newsagents to pick up a copy of the Kent and Sussex Courier, but just my luck - they'd run out (apparently because the local primary school had their photo in it!)

So, this morning, instead of rushing straight into work, I took a detour to another shop, and picked up a copy there. I didn't expect to be on the front page, and I wasn't. I didn't expect to be on the second page, and I wasn't. In fact, I half expected not to be in there at all! (did you think I'd say, 'and I wasn't'?) So, when I found the story on page 9, I have to say I had mixed feelings:

  • Yahay! It's in there!
  • Damn, that's a bad picture (how did they managed to blur a picture that was fine???!!!)
  • Hooray! No-one can see my face! Don't need to hide from people's curious looks...
  • Boo - I'll have to find another way to raise the profile...
  • Great!- the reporter got in most of the relevant points (and was a very lovely person, if you're reading and want to do an article nearer the time! :-))
  • Help! Yes, it is real! As is the number of comments in passing, such as "keep your hair on!", or (instead of 'enjoy the weekend') "Enjoy your hair!" and other wittisisms such as "Hair today and gone tomorrow..." You know teachers - such a smart-ass lot :-)

So, all day I looked to see how my fame has affected donations (not at all!!) and page visits (would you believe it? a decrease!) Hmmm, gonna have to do a lot better than this to reach the target! So, what...? What now?

Anyway, now some more ponderings. So many people are now talking to me about their cancer experiences, and I feel an overwhelming sadness for all the people who have had to watch someone they love go through the experience, and for all the people who are themselves diagnosed - all feeling helpless in the face of what appears, at first, to be hopeless. Yet, there is still hope. Ever increasing hope, in fact (and thank goodness for it!) And for the people who experience this illness themselves - I have the greatest respect in the world. We have been raised to believe that it is a terrible, 'killing' disease. Yet, these people are proving the past wrong all the time. Cancer survivors are on the increase. And new ways of thinking, new methods of treatment and new ways of prevention are always appearing and proving beneficial. Hope is getting stronger.

Now, all we got to do is kick the bugger out of the medical dictionary and into the history books!

-Any which way we can...

Gene diagnosis

Another issue that was raised this weekend was about the availability of a test in Denmark to ascertain whether there is a likelihood for breast cancer to develop (whether there is an increased chance of it, a bigger propensity towards it).

If the gene is found, it doesn't mean you will have cancer, only that the risk is higher. Then, other factors might be significant (though, that isn't to say that a person could necessarily do something to prevent it completely, but might be able to make changes in her life to decrease the risk (there are always factors none of us can eliminate, eg life experiences!))

The point is, young teenagers are finding out they have a gene, which increases the chance of cancer occurring. They are then having an operation to remove both breasts, in an attempt to stop it before it begins. Many of these young people have had to watch a close relative suffer the whole illness and treatment, so who can blame them for wanting to remove the parts of the body where it is likely to occur? To try and prevent the illness before it begins...

I know it is a very personal, and understandable, decision to have the operation, but does it actually prevent it, or is it simply an attempt to reduce the fear (which, in itself, can be a positive step...though there are different, less invasive, ways of helping with the fear)?

As someone else pointed out - better knowledge about diet, exercise, drinking, smoking, stress - calming techniques, and sometimes simply learning the ability to say 'no' might be a lot more effective and less stressful way of improving chances. And regardless, these methods could improve quality of life anyhow.

Life itself can't bring you joy,

unless you really will it.

Life just gives you time and space-

it's up to you to fill it!

(a childhood verse by my friend, Zena)

52 Days - reaffirmation of reasons...

(First of all - I did do a post on Friday before I left for Norwich, but unfortunately that's obviously got lost in 'The Voidoid' Apologies, as I can't remember what it was even about now :-( )

I've just come back from a 'Cousins' Party' (so dubbed by my Danish relations, for self-obvious reasons). On the first night my intention for the head-shave emerged. From all the voices at the table, one cousin's was louder, and more vehement than the other:

"Why are you doing this? Everyone shaves their head - no-one will give money for that! You would have to be Madonna, or someone famous, for anyone to care!"

(Though he did also said he respected the need for raising funds for research, and wished for treatments that didn't make a person ill...)

I pointed out that it wasn't going to happen for nearly two months and that a lot of people had already pledged their support, but he couldn't understand. His insistence that it was a pointless exercise upset me.

Of course, I could have stayed upset, but my lovely sister talked me through, and gave me confidence again. I told her, "I need to feel like I'm doing something- anything- or else what have I got to hold onto?"

She reminded me of the support I already have, and the lives it's already touching on… "You are doing something - more than most!" (thank you again, my lovely sister :-))

So, anyway, I woke in the middle of the night, unable to sleep (seems to becoming a habit!), and found myself working out the reasons for what I'm doing. Some of them are already on the donation page at 'Just Giving', but to be clear in my own mind...


  • Because so many people I've known in my life have been touched by it, and it doesn't appear to be less prevalent (though treatments have improved)
  • because there's still a way to go for treatments to be 100% effective (and it's people who have put so much effort into fundraising and research that have got it as far as it is today!)
  • because when it does touch peoples lives, there is still a feeling of despair when first diagnosed - it would be wonderful if, when people first hear the words, 'you have cancer' that the immediate reaction is annoyance that it is going to inconvenience them for a while. (Even better would be that no consultant or doctor would ever have to say those words!)
  • Because my Childhood friend now has it, and though I'm there for her as much as I can be, I still feel so helpless as she struggles through the harsh treatments, trying to decide whether it's worth continuing when it makes her feel so bad...
  • because, while I can't physically do something for my friend (I can't make her better, nor take her pain away), I can at least try to do something towards the ongoing quest for improvement in treatment - for ourselves, and for our children.
  • shaving my head to raise funds, whilst not original, is something in my power to do... and it means something to me (both in the physical hair loss, and the idea why the loss of hair is significant -see). If I didn't care about it, then it would be no big deal.
  • And it was because cancer touches on so many peoples' lives, that so many people encouraged me to "Go for it!"
It's strange I felt put in the position to justify my actions, but then the person who questioned them admitted he'd never personally been 'touched' by cancer. He also forced me to think about my reasons, so thanks for that, J.!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

55 Days - Words of inspiration

I was left a beautiful poem about hope, by a cancer survivor who visited my sister site (Thank you). She has given me permission to reproduce it here:

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

Cancer will not take my heart.

(See angel-feathers-tickle-me for more wonderful words and pictures)

Eughh! Just heated up a fresh pot of coffee, looked forward to the taste of the new 'fair-trade' brand I'm trying out... Poured the coffee, added the milk and came to sit down - only to discover I'd put orange juice in the cup! Talk about lack of concentration! :-S

Anyway, back to today's post - Now it's under discussion how I should have my hair for the shave- up in plaits, so people can cut them off one-by-one? And possibly they could be kept as souvenirs? Or (seems more likely) the big shave to two foot of hair. Most enthusiasm has been expressed for the latter - a lot of enthusiasm actually (just a 'tad' more than necessary? :-))
I told my older daughter she could have a lock to add to her scalp-belt :-) And suggested I should hang them from the school gates (to let prospective parents and pupils know what really goes on in the school :-D )
Someone suggested I might be able to sell them - not to a wig-maker, certainly, because I've dyed and re-dyed it so many times I'm surprised each strand isn't at least a centimeter thick! Maybe to other scalp-hunters then... :-)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

56 Days - Bad Hair Day!

This has not been the best day ever!

First of all, I dropped my mobile yesterday, and the screen went blank. So, although the phone just about works (I think) I can't use it for phoning out or texting :-(

Secondly, I've had one heck of a morning with the car. A fuse has gone for the central locking. I've changed it 3 times in the last few weeks (the last time being last night). Luckily, one door remained open - which, ok, meant that I had to do an undignified slide in from the back, over the handbrake, and then pull my legs up to my chest to get them where they should rightly go - down in the pedal space!! Whilst congratulating myself that I was fit enough to make this lithe movement, I realised I had pulled a muscle in my hip - painful when I moved. But never mind, I was in...

All was fine until I dropped off my son to walk the dogs. Then, as he closed the door on the way out, I heard an ominous whirrrrr. Ignoring it until I got home, I did a reverse of the 'getting in' manouvre, with even more fun and games avoiding doing any more damage to the hip.... Only to find the back door was now also firmly locked! Help! [You think I should've just pulled up the lock? - fat chance! The lock had gone on 'immobilise' and wasn't budging, no matter how hard I pulled, nor how hard I stared at it, willing it up :-( ] So, I was trapped there. I wondered for how long.... It could be a while. And it would be really embarrassing if the AA had to come out and release me (if it were at all possible!)...

Oh yes, and of course I didn't have my mobile phone, because it was broken!!!

After about 5 minutes of running through the options (one of which was to smash the window), I suddenly realised (slow-bo that I am!) that the engine was still working, and that meant the window could open. Yahay! So, action the forward manouvre again - yow - start the engine, and open the window. All well and good, except there was still no-one around. I tried putting my arm out the window and unlocking the door that way. No go - firmly immobilised (very good if I was a joy-rider, or tea-leaving it, but I wasn't. I just wanted to get out.)

Brainwave number three - Aha! The window was open. I was fairly fit. Go through window? No choice. So, more manouvering. I turned round to the opposite door (ow again!), stuck my hands out and clasped the roof rack and pulled myself out. My neighbour, who's chair always faces the window and who can see the whole street, must have chuckled at the sight of me heaving myself, undignified, out of the car window! :-)

Later, I managed to find a spare fuse for the locking system, and opened the door and got in normally - which really must've made the neighbour question my sanity! Unfortunately, the fuse blew when I shut the door, so history repeated it self once more...

Anyhow, the point of all this rambling is that it was truly a 'bad-hair day', and there was a moment when I thought to myself 'if this is what a BH day is, then I'm better off bald!' :-)

57 Days -boxes and balloons

Tools to 'Bare it all'!

(please note: the charity can claim back about 25% more through Gift Aid, if you spend just a moment more to fill in details for tax :-) Thanks!)

The parcel I got today wasn't one of my usual purchases on e-bay. It was all the fundraising paraphenalia from Cancer Research UK. Not bad that! From the idea just over a week ago, to be ready to rumble today. Shame they haven't done all the posters up for me - they're blanks, so looks like I'm going to have to put in some time doing some designing...Also, I need to make up the boxes (cardboard ones) and see if they've got something a bit more solid to put in shops (If I'm going to do this, I may as well go 'whole hog' and get my face plastered anywhere that'll take it!
I hadn't thought how many little things need doing!

Even more exciting - a reporter from The Kent and Sussex Courier has been in touch, and wants to run the story in this week's paper! Excellent! (God, I'm nervous...)

Thanks to Atul for boosting up the total so far! That makes £147.56 (with reclaimed tax) - and yes, you look lovely bald! :-D

Now, should I plait up my hair today ?- last chance before it goes!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Putting the Kettle On

Another big thank you! This time to Felicity Goodson, who put on a one woman enviromental comedy show at the local primary school in Aid of The Hospice in The Weald & St Wilfreds Hospice, Eastbourne. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but understand it was a sell-out & great success!
And, as ever, thanks to the organiser, Maryan Warlow, who made this success possible!

58 days -Great! 1/10th way there already!

A special thanks to Laura, Haydn & Blacker, who have so kindly contributed on 'Just Giving' to my balding (I'll get you back later! :-)) - They just doubled the sponsors!!!
If people are so generous, I'm sure I will reach the target :-)

And, just as exciting - the thermometer on the donation site shows things are hotting up!

Still got a long way to go though, so please take a ride on the link in the sidebar, and make your contribution to Cancer Research UK today! [Just a reminder - I'm not baring my head for less than one thousand pounds!!! :-D]

Sunday, October 22, 2006

59 going on 58 days - "Ugly!"

On a journey to London this morning, I caught a glimpse of myself in the driving mirror, and (again!) tried to imagine a hairless scalp. I said this to my two youngest, who were busy reading and talking. The conversation that followed was not meant to be offensive - it's a conversation with children, who don't always understand (though, when you think they won't, that's when they do - better than you want them to! :-))

"I'm going to look very different without hair. I just can't imagine it." (...imagining it only too well!)

"Oh, I can. You'll look wierd" laughed my generous daughter.

"I can imagine it mum! You'll be ugly!" said my understanding son.

They both thought it a great laugh.

They know why I'm doing it, and I thought they would get the ideas behind it. But, I must say, there was a distinct lack of empathy (and of civility! ) filling the car at that moment. And I didn't very much feel like going through all the explanations again (that people going through chemo don't have the choice; my efforts at fundraising using a symbolic gesture of both the positive and negative aspects of the treatment...) At that point, it seemed to me I might as well have been doing a Simpsons' "Blah blah blah!"

...and actually, it also upset me a little that they might think I'll be ugly to them (I don't mind them thinking me wierd - that comes with the territory! :-D ). I guess some of these thoughts might go through the mind of someone about to lose their hair...

"Will I look ugly? - Will my partner think I'm ugly? - Will people stop and stare at me in the street? - They'll (think) know I've got Cancer, and I don't want everyone knowing everything that goes on in my life - I'll have to cover my head, so they don't stare - I'll stand out - I'll look like a man! - Better wear more feminine clothes to counteract that... - All the lumps on my head will show - And it's going to be white, because the sun never touches it! - Why me?"

And, of course, cancer isn't limited to women, and (apart from the wearing of feminine clothes bit) the thoughts are just as likely to cross the mind of a man. The loss of hair is just as important an apparent 'loss of personality'. Many men have to face it anyhow (we can all think of at least one guy with 'premature hair loss'! ) and equally don't get the choice of whether to keep it or not. But, I suppose the difference is that, with chemotherapy, there's no gradual getting used to it. It's all, then it's nothing.

My friend's hair is still there at the moment. And, maybe it won't fall out. But, in a way, the hair loss is a sign the chemo injections are targeting the cells, and it's working. So, there's a bit of a dichotomy on whether you want it to fall out. Either way it can be positive:
hair=keep image
no hair = proof chemo working

Saturday, October 21, 2006

60 days- Bugger!

(left- with my brother about 20 years ago)

Bugger & Blast!! (ok, I'm not big on swearing, but a few stronger words pop to mind! :-))
Turns out that, when people tried to get on here (with the intentions of going on to donate) the pages wouldn't work! :-( So, I wonder how many clicked in the email, failed to get the page, deleted email....) and I've gone and removed all those addresses from my address book now, as I realised that I didn't even know who half of them were! Oh well, I'll have to try something else.

Ever stood in front of the mirror and experimented with different styles? Well, I stood in front of the mirror, holding my hair tightly to my head, trying to imagine not having any hair at all... not a pretty sight!!! And, whilst I was doing that, I realised I've only got 2 months to put my hair up into any style I want it - after that... nothing!! I haven't even had my hair short (without plaits sticking out in various places, that is) since I was 18 - and I have to admit, I didn't even like it back then! Also, for the last few years, I've been alternating my hair down with plaiting it up into hundreds of little plaits. It's become part of who I am/ project myself as.

am I doing ?!!!

So, I tried to think of the advantages:

  • It will take only seconds to wash and dry my hair in the morning!
  • I won't have to worry what style to put it in when I go out - no 'Up or down?'
  • I can wear hats - I love hats!
  • I won't have to worry about catching creepy crawlies (lice) and, even better, won't have to do the bug-busting!!! (Yahay! That's a definate plus! - you have no idea how long it takes to get one of those narrow-toothed, little combs through two-foot-long tangly hair!!!)
  • Won't have to spend ages brushing coconot oil through to the ends to condition it
  • I can get rid of all the bleached, dyed and re-dyed bits (at least the last foot and a half :-D) and start afresh
  • I can re-think my image - 'Do I really want long hair?'
Well, that's some good points to go on with... Hasn't quite stopped the nagging feeling that I'm going to do something really stupid, and that I'll really, really miss my hair! But, reminding myself of the point of all this - People going through Chemo usually don't have the choice, and also I hope to raise enough funds to make a contribution to the prevention or cure of such a ubiquitious illness in years to come!!! So, it is worth it!

Big thanks to my lovely sister, Helen, for also putting faith in me with a donation! She supports me in everything I do (the sort of sister you can rely on! :-)) - cheers!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Word of Mouth

Not having a clue about fund-raising, I listened to the advice of a friend, who suggested starting by sending everyone in my mailbox a message to tell them what I'm doing. Ok, it wasn't a long, in-depth kinda mailing, but it stated the bald-fact info (and if you're reading this because you got a copy of the email - thanks for taking the time to come and look! And thanks to the person who passed it on! :-))

Ok, I would be quite impressed that the hits for the site doubled in an hour, but when there's only 12 to start with, the clouds are not exactly going to open, and through a dazzle of light a voice boom, "Rest now - you have done well!" More likely to thunder "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase" (God just happens to be a fan of Martin Luther King!) and "Cheer up! The worst is yet to come!" (He's also thinks these words of Philander Chase Johnson's were not only wise, but also universally useful for just about every situation!)

61 Days - Registering the event...

Sent off my registration form to Cancer Research UK to make it official!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

62 Days - Gelling up and ready to wobble!

I was thinking (oops, probably shouldn't do that! :-)) that maybe putting a couple of photos from the past might be a good idea - you will see, from some of my hairstyles, the great importance my hair is in how I present myself! (and so, what the shave, and losing my hair, will mean to me...) This one's from back in 1990, with two of my children.

So, last night I made another move, which made the head-shave even more certain than before (although, once I'd told people about it, I started to feel committed already): I e-mailed the local paper with details. All day I've been checking my mailbox to see if I had an automatic acknowledgement - uh uh! Not a thing! Hopefully they will reply once they get a chance to check out the links I gave them! :-)

Apart from this, the idea of doing The Deed in front of the school moved one step closer too. Traditionally, there's a theatrical show in the hall on the last day of school. It's a very popular event, since the 6th formers get to take the mickey out of the teachers (they wait their whole school life for this opportunity!) and the performances are relished by the rest of school, who can't wait their turn :-D

One bright spark in the staff room (where all the most creative sparks come from) suggested I could take the opportunity to do the Shave while I have the captive audience (it'd save us getting them all together more than once, which is hazardous at best!). Besides which, after cracking up over teacher caricatures, and watching teachers make a fool of themselves, they will be in the right frame of mind to watch someone else (me! :-S ) do something very silly (and, for some, possibly a little shocking - I've had a couple of people say to me already that there's no way they could watch me cutting off my 'beautiful hair'! :-) Well, they don't have to actually watch... as long as they consider making a contribution!!! :-)

I'm still getting jelly-wobbles in my tummy. I just can't imagine what it will be like to have no hair! I keep imagining me dressed up for Christmas in some classy outfit (as if! :-)) and topped with my knobbly head showing through a morning shadow... As Lynne said, when she made a donation today, I'll have to "Get a hat!" (and maybe some colourful scarves, or even a wig! (I've always wanted to dye my hair blue, and the colour's never taken, so maybe here's my opportunity to wear a royal blue wig! :-D

Thank you to my first two sponsors (especially to Lynne who, when I was in the staffroom saying 'it won't really feel like it's happening until I get more sponsors' immediately dug into her purse and handed me a fiver to put on!)- it's greatly appreciated! The trouble, when you're the first to contribute, is that you don't know how much (whatever you can afford!) and you kind of want to be sure that the event you're sponsoring is actually going to happen, especially if you are making a donation (though, even if it didn't happen, the charity would be still happy to accept the donation - every little helps...)

In my case, as I said, the moment I started talking to people about it, and working out details, I just knew I was going to go through with the idea (oh, I guess I should put a proviso on that) - AS LONG AS DONATIONS TO CANCER RESEARCH UK REACH £1000!!! I really wouldn't want to lose my hair for less! So, guess I got my work cut out for me to reach, and hopefully surpass, my target!!!
(Link is under my profile, just in case you want to add a donation! :-D )

By the way, I spent a long time writing this page and loading the picture, only to be thwarted by the higher powers that be - a particularly strong thunderbolt nearby blew all the power... just when I'd finished writing, and (of course!) before I'd saved... Getting it put on again has taken probably twice as long!!! :-S

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So, what have I got to lose...?

A Heck of a lot, actually! :-D

63 days -Eeugh! Nightmare!

Bad night's sleep... Had a nightmare that I was in a prisoner of war camp, and I queued up to sit in the barber's chair, waiting my turn. The line shuffled along, and my turn came. My shoulders were grabbed from behind and I was forced down into the chair, and held whilst my hair was all shaved off with clippers (like a sheep being sheared...). When I woke (a couple of times), my hand went automatically to my head, and I sighed with relief it was just a dream... and then I remembered!!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A place to donate to Cancer Research UK online!

Yahay! It was easier than I thought to set up a way to donate to a charity online - There's a special website, called "Just Giving", which is already there to make it easy to donate for a particular event! So, I've got a donation page, and there's no excuses not to get the plastic out of your wallet or purse... The address is

But to make it really easy, there's a link in the sidebar! :-D

I've also set a target of £1000!! Whether this is too little or too much remains to be seen, but it's an aim to start with, isn't it! And I'm not losing my hair for less than £1000!!!

Ooops! Gone and done it now: -64 days and counting...

Today, at work, I mentioned my idea (ie of shaving my head for charity) to a few people...

It started small, with "I've been thinking about shaving my head. What do you think?" (the words slipped out unintentionally, whilst my mind was occupied by the very serious business of eating my chicken tikka samosa.)
"Oh no! You can't do that - you've got such beautiul, long hair!"
"I was thinking of doing it for cancer research", I said, and the immediate response was"In that case, I would love to sponsor you!"

After a few people had said this, I begun to wonder seriously if I might actually go through with it. Although I didn't think she would object, I decided to suss out what our Headteacher thought of the idea (before throwing myself head-first under the razor!) Some people might not be appreciative of such an event being part of their organisation, especially with all the hype in the media about what employees should and shouldn't, could and couldn't wear. I figured that voluntary baldness might be a reason to object (I haven't dyed my hair green for the last couple of years for such a consideration). Not that it would have stopped me, but I would have focused elsewhere to publicise. I suppose I might also have been hoping she would object, and then I could have used it as a darned good hurdle for not doing it... As if!! Of course she didn't object - she was great! Very supportive. And, as she said, almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, whether directly or indirectly. (Damn! No excuse to not do it there...)

I also half-hoped that enough people would say, "Oh no, don't do that!!" for me to legitamately think I'd be totally mad to go ahead. Unfortunately, there wasn't any excuse not to do it from this angle either... Once they heard why I wanted to do it, they thought it a great idea.

I begun to realise that people were taking me seriously... even though I was making a joke of it, and even though I wasn't taking myself completely seriously - There was an anticipatory air round the place. Everyone I spoke to mentioned a name or two of someone they knew who'd had this cancer or that, and how the hair loss caused by chemotherapy caused this or that person to feel bad about themselves. It also upset people that they felt helpless in dealing with their friend/relative's feelings of inadequacy- However much you reassure them, they still feel that somehow they are 'failing' if they aren't getting better and that, if they get to the point of having further therapy they must have done something wrong. Or at least not done everything they could have done :-(

People I spoke to felt strongly that shaving my head would indeed draw attention to how important the loss of hair is to a person who is already feeling low with the cancer, and the tiredness of the therapy; and it would also be an appropriate way to raise the profile of cancer research generally, and to keep hope of future cures for presently untreatable aspects of the illness. At the same time, I wanted to point out that the hair loss signified a more positive aspect of the treatment, ie that the fast-renewing cells were being effectively targetted. In other words, the injections were doing what they were meant to do.

The man I spoke to from Cancer Research UK was really helpful and had a good laugh at how a moment of contemplation had develped into full-blown madness. He told me that a fundraising pack would be in the post today, and when I had sent back the registration form with details of what I intended to do (and by repeating my intention to him, there was an nagging feeling I had now passed the no-return point in my commitment), and then the organisation would help out in any way they could (posters /balloons /t-shirts etc for The Event. In the meantime I could ring if I had any queries.

Coming towards the end of the day, I approached a colleague, and said, " Oh my God, what have I done?" The date had somehow been set as the last day of term (everyone would be in a light mood, and I would be able to slope off afterwards if I wanted to :-)) We were discussing it as we entered the staff room... and staffrooms have many ears. Soon a declaration of intention had been (by my split personality?) made, and just everyone had some ideas of how to make it a really good event:

  • "Do it up on stage in front of the school - there'll be more enthusiasm if they get to see the event!"
  • "Get the kids to do various fund-raising activities to make them feel more directly involved"
  • "...maybe they could make a donation to be allowed to wear a pink accessory that day?"
  • "How about getting the drama teacher to do the shaving? - she'd add a theatrical touch for an exciting climax!"
  • "And, if you've got it plaited up (a common style for me) then you could raise more by letting the kids pay extra to chop off a plait each... for a price :-)"
  • "You've got to have some kind of count-down board!"
  • "Who's got a video to record it?" (isn't it enough to live through it once?!!!)
  • "The local paper would cover it, I'm sure!"

Oh, the enthusiasm! The creativity! The fait accompli...

A blog dedicated for bald-headed fundraising!

Entry from my sister site 'Words that Flow', yesterday. Transferred here today, to allow dedication to the cause:

I've been having a big think about something my friend, Zena, said when I visited at the weekend. She was really pleased her hair hadn't started falling out, yet, after her 2nd chemo. Apparently it's more likely after the 3rd. One of her sisters was there too, and she'd brought round a nifty hat for when it happens. Anyway, what I was thinking about was what it must be like to lose your hair. Although hair is just hair, people fashion it, like clothes, to project their identity. What happens, when you are feeling the lowest of the low, knocked out by chemicals zooming round your body, targeting 'hotspots' of new growth (including hair and nails)?

Jeez! I've had my hair in every outgoing style - dyed it red, orange, yellow, green (never managed blue, since it doesn't seem to 'take' in my hair). I've had hair standing straight up; backcombed in the 80's; permed into zig-zags; plaited down my back (currently my alternative style); and down when it behaves itself- it has a lovely wave just after it's been washed (the envy of a fair few people, I've been told :-)).

Well, thinking along these lines, I realised how much of my identity is tied up in my hair. Cancer happens to many people, unfortunately, and affects them profoundly simply by being there. How much worse, I thought, to then lose your hair when you are feeling at your worst!
Now, to the point - I've been thinking for a while what I can do to raise money for cancer research. I've known so many people affected by it's impact on their lives, or those of a loved one. I would like to do something that means something to me, in how it reflects the illness. I'm considering the London 'Moon Walk' (Saturday19th May 2007 - registrations in by 23rd December 2006, or sooner if the places get filled! See link in sidebar under Randolf the monkey! ), but I'd like to do something more personal to me. It occurred to me that one thing I could do, which would put me closer to the position of understanding how it felt to lose your identity when going through chemo, and also to symbolise that temporary loss of hair whilst using the treatment (as a hopefully positive step towards healing).... would be (dare I say it in words and commit myself?) to shave my head of all my gorgeous tresses!!!

Now, I value my hair, and I really (really!) wish I hadn't thought of this as a fund-raising effort, but now I have, I find that it is an appropriate thing to do. I surely am not the first to think of this, and definately won't be the last, but I have such a lot of hair to lose!!! At present, it's nearing waist length. And to be honest, I don't know how I'd feel if it wasn't there. However, the seed of idea has been planted...

Now, my problems are

  1. I need to reach as many people as possible, to raise the profile of this prospective event (I believe I may contact one of the cancer research charities, and see if they can help) - so, some sort of advertising
  2. I would need to make available some method for people to sponsor/ donate directly to the charity, and for some way of that total figure to be recorded
  3. A target figure should be ascertained (how much would it be worth to people to see me go bald? :-D )
  4. hmmm, I'm sure there must be other things I haven't thought of...

I'm hoping someone out there might have some answers or ideas of how I can go about this. Seeing as Zena's going through this struggle, I'd kind of like to keep her company (we could be a couple of baldies together!! :-))

So, if you think of something, drop me a line (you can always get in touch via 'comments'). I'm going to get some photos of what my wonderful head of hair looks like now... I'm hoping there's enough malicious cackling out there to make this worth while...

So, watch this space, and be ready to pass the word on... :-)